This ''Rifleman'' director said that one of the hardest parts of directing the series was creating an affectionate father-son relationship

"The great message of the show was the love between a father and a son."

In addition to being a first-rate Western, The Rifleman is commended as a well-executed depiction of a loving father-son relationship. While that might seem like small potatoes today, many television series of past decades, especially Westerns, prioritized masculinity over-sensitivity, which meant that we rarely saw our favorite male protagonists show any kind of emotion.

The Rifleman separated itself from other shows of its kind by choosing to highlight the familial love between father Lucas McCain and his son, Mark. In an interview with the Copley News Service, Rifleman star Chuck Connors commended this detail during his description of the series.

He stated, "My star on Hollywood Boulevard mainly comes from one thing — The Rifleman. That's the mark I've left, this wonderful series about a father and his son in the Old West and keeping the family together under duress. I am so proud of The Rifleman.

In an interview with the San Francisco Examiner, Connors also said, "We established the forgotten fact that there is such a thing as a warm relationship between father and son. It happens all over the world. Our background was the West. Put them together and you have The Rifleman. What we are going to do is bring you a type of show we will enjoy seeing."

But while the relationship between father and son was crucial, it was tough getting the actors to portray it on screen, especially in the early days of the show. According to an article from The Billings Gazette, one of The Rifleman's directors, Joseph H. Lewis revealed that at the beginning of the series, actor Johnny Crawford, who played Mark, was reluctant to show physical affection to his onscreen father out of fear that he may look like a weakling to the audience.

This embarrassment was quickly shed, and as the series progressed, Lewis said that Crawford became more and more comfortable being affectionate with his on-screen father. Not only did this shift work out for the betterment of the series, but it also left a lasting impact on viewers as well. Lewis said, "The great message of the show was the love between a father and a son...Children became close to them. It did an awful lot of good all over the world."

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5 Comments

BenSobeleone 30 days ago
Great show! Enjoy watching it. What's with the photo? Looks like Lucas and Mark are stuck in quicksand! I hope Micah shows up to pull them out.
Runeshaper 1 month ago
The Rifleman was a GREAT show!

P.S. I love my dad! (-:
jmworacle 1 month ago
Such a wonderful show. I remember one episode where Mark's teacher was belittling Lucas for being a "neanderthal" and when Mark stood up to him he was corporally punished. When Mark complained to Lucas he told him he drew it upon himself and face the consequences. Nowadays the reaction would be a law firm and sue the school.
Andybandit 1 month ago
I love how The Rifleman has a father and son that takes care of each other.
texasluva 1 month ago
How popular was The Rifleman back in those days?
During The Rifleman's successful five season run, it became one of the highest rated programs on air. Connors had a faithful fan base of over 40,000,000 fans who would watch him and other cast members on screen per week.

No wonder most every actor wanted to be on this show. The list below are just some of them that played an episode or more.

John Anderson, Richard Anderson, Lyle Bettger, Whit Bissell, Harry Carey Jr., John Carradine, Lon Chaney Jr., Ellen Corby, John Dehner, Jack Elam, Med Flory, Dabbs Greer, Rodolfo Hoyos Jr., L.Q. Jones, John Milford, Agnes Moorehead, Denver Pyle, Lee Van Cleef, Royal Dano and Adam West, most appearing multiple times in different roles. Several then-newcomers also appeared in the series, including Claude Akins, James Coburn (credited as "Jim"), Mark Goddard, Dan Blocker, James Drury, Dennis Hopper, Michael Landon, Warren Oates, Harry Dean Stanton, Robert Vaughn, Robert Culp (who starred in Four Star Productions' "Trackdown" from 1957 to 1959), Martin Landau and Richard Kiel.

In 1973, at a party at President Nixon's vacation home, he met an unlikely fan--Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, who greeted his favorite actor with a big Russian bear hug. Connors presented Brezhnev with two six-guns. The story below is more then interesting.

https://www.outsider.com/news/the-rifleman-star-chuck-connors-gifted-soviet-dignitary-six-shooters-cowboy-hat/
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